Wednesday, January 25, 2017

One Good, Two Bad

This is one of those overwhelming periods. Right now I don't even know if Trumpkin has signed another executive order restricting refugees and visas or not. Before I check to see, I have to clear a few things off my desk and into the cloud.

First, a good idea: Want a new model for health care? The Germans do it right. Commentary in the Star Tribune by Steve Klingaman, a nonprofit consultant and nonfiction writer. He gives a great summary of how the German system works, how much it costs, and how it benefits the people there. A couple of key quotes: "It’s not socialized medicine — it’s socialized risk management." And, as a conclusion:
Why do we insist on ignoring their example? Is it due to our bias that no viable solution ever arises from beyond our shores — especially from “socialized” Europe? Is it that the wealthiest among us enjoy a fantastic health-care system? Are we willing to sacrifice the access to health care the 18 million people who will be left uninsured if Obamacare is simply repealed? There is no way to fix the problem short of universal participation and regulation. That’s the bottom line.
I find it interesting that the amount Germans pay for health coverage is 8 percent of their income — which is very close to the percent of income I found the other day when looking into ACA rates for people making under $60,000. Except Germans have no deductibles and other costs that pop up out of nowhere, which is a huge improvement, I think we can all agree.

Second, an egregious injustice: St. Paul cop charged with punching handcuffed teen girl. A 38-year-old male cop, Michael Soucheray (any relation to Pioneer Press caveman columnist Joe Soucheray?) was called to a shelter for sexually exploited girls back in early December. A 14-year-old was suicidal and so staff called police and EMTs. But the girl didn't want to go in the ambulance and was agitated. (Shocking, I know.) Soucheray and his partner handcuffed the girl (it doesn't say why) and then pretty much forced her into their squad car. When Soucheray "sat her up" in the seat, she spat in his face.

He responded by striking her twice with a closed fist right in the face, grabbed her jaw or neck, and called her an expletive expletive (let me guess... f$^*ing b$*&h?).

Soucheray has been charged with fifth-degree assault, which is highly unusual for police in any kind of circumstances. His lawyer says it was reasonable force, "a self-defense reaction" after she had "committed felony assault" on him.

No. We expect more from people who work for us and who wear guns. They should at least be adults when dealing with children.

I hope he's found guilty, gets anger management classes, and a new job.

Third, a local trial that's not getting enough attention: Remember when protestors were encamped outside the North Minneapolis police headquarters in late November 2015, and four armed men came and shot several black men? Yeah? Well, the main perpetrator, Lance Scarsella, is on trial right now.

Scarsella claims he feared for his life, but clearly he set up the whole situation through his own actions, especially bringing a gun in the first place. He may have feared being punched at that last moment, but he responded with bullets. A story from today's Star Tribune revealed he has a close friend who's a cop in Burnsville, a south metro suburb, and that the two had exchanged many texts using the N-word. The cop, who testified yesterday, described their texts as "locker room talk." Now where have we heard that before?

An earlier commentary in the Star Tribune sheds some light on the case: Implicit bias raises its ugly head in the Scarsella case. It doesn't address what happened in the shooting so much as what may happen in the trial, with its nearly all-white, all-male jury.
One prospective juror called Black Lives Matter a “hate group” and another said blacks should “get off welfare.” Judge Hilary Caligiuri denied prosecutor Judith Hawley’s motions to strike both men for cause. Two black prospective jurors were stricken for cause.
The commentary doesn't say what the cause was for striking the two black jurors, but I'm outraged that at least the juror who said BLM is a hate group wasn't stricken from the pool. In case you were wondering, Hennepin County is 13 percent black; Minneapolis is almost 19 percent black. The jury is 0 percent black.

Scarsella's trial is taking place not long after the judge who was selected to oversee the trial of Jeronimo Yanez (the cop who killed Philando Castile) was challenged by Yanez's lawyers and replaced. The judge, Edward Wilson, was the second most-senior judge on the Ramsey County bench. Yanez's lawyers are not required to give a reason for their request. But if you guessed that Judge Wilson is black, you would be correct. He has been replaced with a white judge.

In the South Carolina trial of Michael Slager, the white cop who shot Walter Scott in the back in 2015, 21 percent of the jury pool was black, but the trial was held with just one black juror. The case ended in a hung jury and a mistrial.

When it comes time for the all nonblack jurors in the Scarsella trial to decide whether it was reasonable for him to shoot because he feared for his life, and there's not a single black person in the jury room to remind them black people are humans, how will that go?

I hate to say it, but I predict Scarsella will be found not guilty in this, a state that does not have a stand your ground law, a state that has a duty to retreat.

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